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David Fuller and Bruce Gustafson

Member of Couperin family

(b Paris, 1675–6 or 1678–9; d Versailles, May 30, 1728). Singer and harpsichordist, daughter of (2) François Couperin (i). Titon du Tillet and the act of decease agree on the year of her death, but disagree as to her age, the former giving it as 52, the latter as 49; her date of birth is otherwise undocumented. On her reception as ...


Lara E. Housez

(Ian )

(b Oceanside, NY, May 15, 1956). American composer, lyricist, librettist, pianist, and singer. After studying composition at Carnegie Mellon University, Gordon settled in New York, where he emerged as a leading writer of art song, chamber pieces, opera, and musical theater. Drawing on his own texts as well as those by Marie Howe, Langston Hughes, Tina Landau, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Dorothy Parker, among others, Gordon dramatizes complex and mature subject material with sophisticated musical means that often stretch beyond the traditional palette of popular and Broadway music. In 2007, he made his largest musical statement to date with The Grapes of Wrath, an ambitious full-scale opera in three acts with a libretto by Michael Korie based on John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Commissioned by Minnesota Opera and Utah Symphony and Opera and co-produced by Pittsburgh Opera and Houston Grand Opera, the work melds popular musical styles and forms of the 1920s and 30s, featuring guitar, banjo, saxophone, and harmonica, with the classical drama of grand opera. Gordon often twists the accessible sounds for critical effect. He has nine recordings devoted to his music, and a cast of such internationally acclaimed vocalists as Kristin Chenoweth, Renée Fleming, Audra McDonald, Frederica von Stade, and Dawn Upshaw have featured his songs on 19 other discs. His publications include: four songbooks, ...


William Geoffrey Shaman

revised by Jonas Westover

(b New York, NY, April 27, 1869; d New York, NY, Feb 15, 1943). American conductor, composer, and pianist. As a child, he sang boy soprano in several churches, singing solos in many oratorios and cantatas. He studied piano with Charles Blum, singing with William Courtney, composition with Frederick Schilling, and conducting with anton Seidl , and he began his career as an organist at various churches in the New York area. He was a rehearsal pianist and coach at the Metropolitan Opera (1892–5), conductor of the Utica Choral Union (1893–4), and assistant conductor to Seidl at the Brighton Beach Summer Concerts (1895–6); after 1899 he devoted himself primarily to teaching and composing. He also enjoyed a strong reputation as an accompanist, appearing frequently with major concert artists. He was particularly supportive of new music of his era, championing Arthur Foote and others. From ...


Karen M. Bryan

[Douglas, Lena ]

(b Kansas City, KS, 1885; d Los Angeles, CA, Jan 24, 1974). American critic, composer, singer, and pianist. After receiving a BSc from Western Ontario University in Quindaro, Kansas, Holt studied at the Chicago Musical College and earned the first MusM in composition awarded to an African American (1918). During the 1920s she performed as a singer throughout Europe, studied composition briefly with Nadia Boulanger, and developed close friendships with Harlem Renaissance figures such as Carl Van Vechten and Langston Hughes.

While Holt’s career included periods in which she composed (only one of approximately 200 compositions survive) and performed (she sang extensively in private venues during her travels), she always returned to music journalism. She served as critic for The Chicago Defender from 1917–21, becoming the first woman music critic in the United States. During this same period she published Music and Poetry (1919–21), in which she included new compositions (including her own)....


Renee Lapp Norris

(b 1823, in Lancaster or Philadelphia, PA; d Chillicothe, MO, Sept 10, 1868). American composer, manager, arranger, singer, and pianist. Of German ancestry, Kneass began his career as a child, appearing in 1828 in Philadelphia. By the early 1840s, he was performing vocal concerts in New York with a group that included Mrs. Eliza Sharpe (whom he may have married), George Holman, and Joseph H. Kavanagh. In the autumn of 1844, Kneass, Holman, and Kavanagh sang in the chorus for the American premiere of Michael William Balfe’s opera The Bohemian Girl. In the spring of 1845, Kneass directed and performed as a blackface minstrel with the Ethiopian Troupe of Burlesquers, which also included Sharpe, Holman, and Kavanagh. They performed opera parody skits at Palmo’s Opera House in New York City, including The Virginian Girl, a parody of The Bohemian Girl. During the next several years, Kneass performed with the New Orleans Serenaders, a troupe known for its opera parodies, and managed the Sable Harmonists, which toured the American South and the British Isles. In ...


Kate Dunlay

(Dwayne )

(b Antigonish, NS, Feb 24, 1975). Canadian fiddler, pianist, composer, and singer. During his early years, he was immersed in the Scottish-derived traditional music of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. He took up the fiddle (which he plays left-handed) at age eight. MacIsaac studied under Stan Chapman along with sister Lisa, cousin Wendy MacIsaac, and neighbor Natalie MacMaster, all of whom are now well-known fiddlers.

In 1992 the teenaged MacIsaac released his first album, Close to the Floor. That same year he was invited to New York by theater director JoAnne Akalaitis to play in one of her husband Philip Glass’ works. Through this connection, MacIsaac eventually met and worked with Paul Simon and his wife Edie Brickell, as well as David Byrne. Over the years Glass has involved MacIsaac in other projects, such as Orion (recorded 2005).

The release of the innovative album HiHow Are You Today...


Daniel Party

(b Mérida, Mexico, Dec 7, 1935). Mexican singer, songwriter, pianist, and arranger. Manzanero began his professional career as a piano accompanist in Mérida in 1951. After relocating to Mexico City in 1957 he worked as accompanist for renowned singers such as Pedro Vargas, Lucho Gatica, and Angélica María. His first major success as a composer came in 1958 when Gatica recorded Manzanero’s bolero “Voy a apagar la luz.” In the following decade he became a highly sought after bolero composer. Artists such as Olga Guillot, Roberto Ledesma, and Los Panchos recorded his songs. In 1967 Manzanero released his first solo album, A mi amorcon mi amor, in which he sings his own songs with an orchestral arrangement.

His use of melodic chromaticism, extended harmonic language, and slower tempi is representative of the jazz-influenced bolero moderno style, first popularized by composers Vicente Garrido and Álvaro Carrillo. In his own late 1960s recordings Manzanero made a conscious attempt at modernizing bolero further by incorporating features of contemporary rock and roll, such as teen-oriented lyrics, and usage of electric musical instruments and drum kit. His contributions played a key role in the development of balada, the genre that eventually replaced bolero as the quintessential Latin American romantic popular music....


Chadwick Jenkins

(b Louisville, KY, Aug 9, 1926). American jazz singer, pianist, organist, and bandleader. She learned to play piano by ear and as a child performed at her father’s church. She studied pipe organ and music theory at Fisk University. By the late 1940s she was performing in Chicago nightclubs as a soloist and as the leader of an all-female group. Her most notable group of the period was the Syncoettes, which included Lula Roberts (formerly of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm) on saxophone. Their first recording, “My Whole Life Through,” was produced and arranged by Eddie Durham and appeared on Premium Records in 1950. McLawler disbanded the Syncoettes in 1952 and began performing solo once again. Wild Bill Davison encouraged her to play Hammond B-3 organ and she soon formed a trio in Brooklyn, New York. There she met her future husband, the violinist Richard Ott, with whom she formed a trio consisting of organ, violin, and drums. This unusual ensemble became very popular, with regular performances at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem. It recorded the successful album ...


Melanie Feilotter

(b Randolph, VT, Aug 26, 1981). American composer and pianist. Raised in Providence, Rhode Island, he learned piano, sang in an Episcopalian boys’ choir and became enchanted with the English choral tradition, from William Byrd, Orlando Gibbons, and Thomas Weelkes to Henry Purcell and Benjamin Britten. In high school he studied composition with David Rakowski. Muhly completed a joint program at Columbia University and the Juilliard School in English and composition (BA 2003, MM 2004). Remaining in New York, he worked for Philip Glass as a keyboard player and entered the composer’s scores into computerized form. Choral works have formed a large part of Muhly’s oeuvre and have shown his mastery of the liturgy and his adeptness at incorporating old and new. Commissions in 2005 include Bright Mass with Canons for Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue in New York and I cannot attain unto it, a psalm setting for the Manhattan Choral Ensemble. ...


Nathan D. Gibson

[Aubrey Wilson ]

(b Corrigan, TX, March 29, 1909; d Beaumont, TX, Jan 1, 1967). American country music singer and pianist. Widely regarded as the King of the Hillbilly Piano Players, he drew inspiration from boogie-woogie pianists, blues guitarists, and the prominent western swing scene in East Texas where he grew up, developing his own hard-edged barrelhouse style of honky-tonk piano that bridged the gap between boogie woogie, country music, and rock and roll. Mullican began his music career in the mid-1930s as an instrumentalist with the Blue Ridge Playboys and later joined Cliff Bruner’s Texas Wanderers before forming his own band, the Show Boys, in the mid-1940s. He was signed to King Records in 1946 and scored several major hits for the label between 1947 and 1951. Although most often remembered for his proto-rockabilly singles, by the time rock and roll took over Mullican was considered too old to cash in on the new sound. Made for Decca and Coral in the late-1950s, Mullican’s recordings presented a unique mix of country, rock, blues, pop, and even jazz, but found little commercial appeal. He spent his twilight years recording for smaller independent labels including Starday, Musicor, Spar, and Hall-Way...


Megan E. Hill

(b Osaka, Japan, 1957). Jazz and blues pianist, singer, and composer of Japanese birth. She took piano lessons briefly as a child and was exposed to the blues while growing up in Osaka in the 1960s and 1970s. As a high school student, she formed the Yoko Blues Band with classmates. The band earned some success, winning first prize and a recording contract in a television-sponsored contest. In 1984 she moved to the United States to pursue a jazz and blues career in Chicago. Initially a singer, she studied piano with boogie, blues, and jazz pianist Erwin Helfer. In the early 1990s Noge established the Jazz Me Blues Band, which has played regularly in Chicago since its formation. In addition to Noge on piano and vocals, the ensemble has included Noge’s husband, Clark Dean, on soprano saxophone, saxophonist Jimmy Ellis, trombonist Bill McFarland, and bassist Tatsu Aoki. In addition to playing more conventional jazz and blues, Noge has made a name for herself through the unique compositions she has written for the group, which meld Japanese folk music styles with Chicago blues. Active in the broader Asian American community, she cofounded the Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival in ...


Jonas Westover

[William ]

(b Houston, TX, Sept 2, 1946; d Scottsdale, AZ, June 6, 2006). American keyboard player, singer, and songwriter. Preston was a piano prodigy, who began learning when he was three and was playing live gigs with bands by the age of ten. Preston played with gospel stars Mahalia Jackson and James Cleveland, and landed a small acting role as a young W.C. Handy in the film St. Louis Blues (1958). In the 1960s he began to accompany various high profile artists, including Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, and Little Richard. In 1965 he released his solo album The Most Exciting Organ Ever. He released several additional albums, showcasing his remarkable keyboard skills and lively personality, but his connection with the Beatles brought him even greater prominence. Invited to the band’s recording sessions by George Harrison, Preston played electric piano and organ on three of their late albums, contributing especially to ...


Greil Marcus

revised by Timothy D. Miller

[Charles ]

(b Colt, AR, Dec 14, 1932; d Hammond, LA, July 25, 1995). American country singer, songwriter, and pianist. The last important artist to be signed by producer Sam Phillips, he made recordings for a subsidiary of the Sun label, Phillips, early in his career, but never fit into the rockabilly mold set by Elvis Presley for white musicians who recorded for Sun. Instead, he favored blues, gospel, and jazz, and his early recordings show less similarity to Presley (despite his full, beautifully modulated voice) than to the blues ballad singer Bobby Bland. In 1965 he signed a contract with the Smash label in Nashville and in the same year had a hit with “Mohair Sam,” an eccentric, humorous song uncharacteristic of his moody, often anguished style. Though he quickly came to maturity as a singer and songwriter, his more serious, personal compositions were often ignored by the public. He made recordings for a number of labels and his career declined for a period, during which he performed mostly in nightclubs in Memphis. In the late 1960s he began to record for Epic, for which he did some of his finest work. His songs from this period, often written with his wife Margaret Ann Rich, combine blues feeling with country-music form; they include “Set me free” (...


David Brackett

[Penniman, Richard Wayne]

(b Macon, GA, 5 Dec 1932). Rhythm and blues singer, songwriter, and pianist. His early influences were gospel music, Louis Jordan, and other jump blues and urban blues artists of the late 1940s. After making several unsuccessful recordings in the early 1950s, he recorded “Tutti Frutti” in September 1955, which was a success on both the rhythm and blues and the pop charts. Although part of the first wave of rock and roll hits, it was far more aggressive and retained more aspects of African American vernacular music-making than other early recordings in this style.

“Tutti Frutti” set the tone for the Little Richard's hits that followed between 1956 and 1958—including “Long Tall Sally,” “Rip it up,” “Lucille,” “Keep a knockin’” and “Good Golly, Miss Molly”—over a fast boogie-shuffle rhythm with many stop-time breaks, he sings playful double-entendres near the top of his range in a searing timbre interspersed with trademark falsetto whoops. His piano playing derives from the boogie-woogie style, emphasizes the upbeat, and features a great many glissandos. In performance Little Richard would frequently leave the piano to dance exuberantly, occasionally on top of the instrument itself. In addition to his manic presence as singer, pianist, and dancer, his visual appearance added to the sense of his outrageousness: with his large pompadour, liberal use of makeup, and gaudy clothing, he raised the specter of cross-dressing and ambiguous sexuality at a time when such issues were strictly taboo. However, it is possible that he was accepted by the white public at the time because his performance style was perceived as an updated form of minstrelsy....


Luca Cerchiari

[Jimmie; Hunter, James George]

(b Spokane, WA, Aug 19, 1918; d Burbank, CA, May 28, 1996). American pianist and singer. A refined keyboard player and an occasional vocalist, he possessed a style that in some ways recalled Cole Porter’s. Initially self-taught, Rowles then studied at Gonzaga University in Spokane. His professional career began in the 1940s in California, where he performed with Lester Young, Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Ben Webster, Woody Herman, and Dexter Gordon, among others. The following decade he spent more time accompanying singers, including Peggy Lee, Anita O’Day, Jimmy Witherspoon, and Mel Tormé, and such instrumental soloists as Buddy Rich, Stan Getz, Shorty Rogers, Jimmy Giuffre, and Ray Brown. He recorded as a leader for Liberty, Pacific Jazz, Clef, and Verve and also worked as a studio musician for film and television. His later years included additional performing, touring (with Ella Fitzgerald), festival performances, and recording for Atlantic and Columbia, among other labels. One of his best known compositions, “The Peacocks,” has been covered by many interpreters and was featured in the film ...


Jonas Westover

[Bridges, Claude Russell]

(b Lawton, OK, April 2, 1942; d Nashville, Nov 10, 2016). American singer, songwriter, keyboard player, and producer. He is well respected for his solo work—a mix of rock, folk, and country music—but his work as a session musician also brought significant recognition. He began playing piano at the age of four and was playing in clubs in Tulsa as a high school student. His band, the Starlighters, managed to score a spot as the opening act for Jerry Lee Lewis in 1959. Russell moved to Los Angeles the same year and quickly established himself as a session musician, notably with the Wrecking Crew the group of musicians Phil Spector used to accompany his artists. With the Wrecking Crew, the accompanied artists such as the Byrds, Herb Alpert, and Gary Lewis and the Playboys. The keyboard player on hundreds of recordings, he opened his own recording studio in ...


Malcolm Boyd and Roberto Pagano

Member of Scarlatti family

(b Naples, Oct 26, 1685; d Madrid, July 23, 1757). Composer, harpsichordist, and singer; sixth child of (1) Alessandro Scarlatti and Antonia Anzaloni. He never used his first Christian name (which could have led to confusion with his nephew Giuseppe): his name is always given in Italy as Domenico (or the familiar Mimo) Scarlatti, and in Portugal and Spain as Domingo Escarlate (Escarlati or Escarlatti).

Roberto Pagano

There is no specific information on Domenico Scarlatti’s introduction to music. In so large a family of musicians, his uncle Francesco and brother Pietro, if not his father, would soon have noticed and nurtured his special gifts; biographers have speculated that he finished his musical education under Gaetano Greco or Bernardo Pasquini. Burney states that while Alessandro was living in Naples he entrusted Domenico to Francesco Gasparini in Rome (BurneyH, vol.2, 635), but Kirkpatrick suggests that Burney’s chronology is confused and attributes greater importance to Domenico’s contact with Gasparini in Venice between ...


Jonas Westover

(b Brooklyn, NY, March 13, 1939). American singer, pianist, and songwriter. Sedaka began singing and playing the piano when he was quite young, eventually taking part in the Juilliard School’s preparatory curriculum. When he was 13, Sedaka met Howard Greenfield, and the two began to write pop songs together, eventually penning hits for Connie Francis and others. He organized a band called the Tokens after graduating high school, then became a solo artist in 1957. It did not take long for him to gain some minor success with songs such as “The Diary” and “Oh! Carol!” Marketed as a studio teen idol, Sedaka became a major recording star in the early 1960s with hits such as “Stairway to Heaven,” “Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen,” “Next Door to an Angel,” and “Calendar Girl,” eventually reaching number one with “Breaking up is hard to do” (1962). He continued to write and perform throughout the 1960s and into the 70s, but did not manage to land further hits until the mid-1970s in the adult contemporary market. Making use of a lighter, relaxed pop sound while maintaining a clean-cut image, he found success with “Laughter in the Rain” and “Bad Blood” (with backup vocals by Elton John). Sedaka has continued to tour and record (including a successful Christmas album) well into the 21st century, and has made several guest appearances on ...


Peter Kemp

(Leopold Maria)

Member of Strauss family

(b Vienna, March 24, 1910; d Vienna, April 6, 1969). Conductor; grandson of (4) Eduard (i) and nephew of (5) Johann (iii). He learnt the piano, horn and singing, privately and at the Vienna Music Academy. He was an accompanist at the Auer-Weissgerber private singing school in Vienna, then in 1939 enlisted for military service. From 1946 to 1956 he worked as a teacher and répétiteur in Alfred Jerger’s opera class at the Vienna Conservatory, where he met his future wife, the Polish-born soprano Elisabeth Pontes (b 1919). He made his public conducting début in Vienna in 1949, although, not being a violinist, he conducted with a baton. His good looks, self-effacing manner and the elegance he brought to his interpretations of music by the Strauss family and composers such as Mozart and Schubert won him great popularity. International tours took him to Manila, Seoul, Moscow, Cairo, Paris, London, Athens, Gothenburg and Warsaw. Of greatest significance were the six tours of Japan he made between 1956 and 1967 with the Tokyo SO, which helped spread the popularity of western classical and light-classical music in that country. In 1966 he became founder-conductor of the Vienna Johann Strauss Orchestra, with which he made a highly successful tour of Canada and the USA. His final public engagement was on ...